SINGAPORE: A Singaporean teenager facing jail time over a video criticizing the late Lee Kuan Yew was remanded in custody for the second time on Thursday, with the drama heightened after he was slapped by a stranger outside the courthouse.
Amos Yee is facing three charges including for actions that hurt religious feelings after he attacked the 91-year-old political patriarch in an eight-minute, expletive-laden YouTube video, and launched a tirade against Christianity.
Yee, 16, was initially remanded at Changi Prison for five days two weeks ago but was bailed out on April 21 with a court order barring him from posting on social media while the case was pending.
But a district court ordered Yee to be remanded at the prison again this week after the teenager refused to comply with bail conditions, prompting his bailor to withdraw.
Yee breached the court order when he uploaded two blog posts on Thursday. One of them slammed the conditions for his bail while another accused his father of physical abuse.
Vincent Law, a Christian youth counselor who had bailed the teenager out, withdrew as a bailor on Thursday after the latest developments, Yee’s lawyer Alfred Dodwell said.
In his video, Yee compared Lee, Singapore’s founding prime minister, to Jesus, saying “they are both power-hungry and malicious but deceive others into thinking they are compassionate and kind”.
The video, titled “Lee Kuan Yew is finally dead”, was uploaded after Lee’s death on March 23, and Yee was subsequently arrested on March 29, the day of Lee’s state funeral.
Adding drama to the case, a male stranger rushed at Yee while he was entering the courthouse Thursday and slapped him. The middle-aged man, who committed the act in front of reporters, ran off after telling a stunned Yee to “sue me”.
Dodwell, the lawyer, said a police report will be filed over the incident, videos of which went viral on social media.
Yee has also been charged with circulating obscene content on his blog — a graphic cartoon of Lee with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher — as well as making threatening, abusive or insulting communication.
If convicted, Yee faces up to three years in jail, a fine, or both for the charge of wounding religious feelings, and up to three months in jail, a fine or both for circulating obscene content.